This week we're doing something a little bit different. As part of Red Adept Publishing's Young at Heart Tour I'm going to be taking a look at the work of some of my peers. Today we're spotlighting UPLOAD by probably the awesomest guy I ever met in real life, Steve McQueen. I mean, Collin Tobin. (Sorry, I always mix those two up.)
Why bring that up? Well, UPLOAD, ostensibly a technothriller hewing to the YA crowd, has a premise that is just balls-out terrifying. I may as well just throw up a SPOILER ALERT!!! here because I'm pretty sure it took us about halfway through the book before we got to this part, but I want to delve into it anyway.
Preying on the worst fears of the "Gosh, the NSA sure seems to know a lot about what I left in my stool this morning" era, Collin cranks the squick level up a notch with UPLOAD, where (did I mention SPOILER ALERT!!!!?) cameras are inserted into people's eyes. Into your damn eye! And your eye camera isn't uploading all of your staring at yourself masturbating and other various horrible invasions of privacy for something nebulous but ostensibly important like national security. Nope. Eye cameras exist solely for the purpose of extorting the fuck out of you.
So. Yeah. Talk about finding abject, existential horror in the least likely of places. What scares me most about this, too, is that I know Collin a little bit in real life. And from what I can tell, when he's not driving around in muscle cars or stroking his Gandalf beard pensively, he works for a tech company. So I don't think he's talking out of his ass when he's describing these technologies and methodologies. Perhaps the most terrifying part of UPLOAD is that it could really happen. Maybe it is really happening. Maybe some Russian gangster is watching as I type this blogpost right now. [shudder]
Somehow I've gotten this far into what is ostensibly a review without even mentioning what a rip-roaring yarn this is. It's not all existential, nihilistic terror. The friendship between main characters Jay and Bennie is a particular highlight. Bennie's woundedness (is that a word?) and Jay's fumbling interactions with his best friend's sister add some age-appropriate emotional realism to the novel. I never felt like I was reading about adults in teenager-skin suits.
A great read for teens and technophiles alike, I highly recommend UPLOAD.
Someone’s always watching.
Sixteen-year-old Jay Brooks’s life is in chaos. Feeling like a stranger in his own home, he spends all his spare time with his best friend, Bennie, and not just because he had a crush on Chloe, Bennie’s older sister.
A wheelchair-bound hacker, Bennie Welch practically lives in his basement computer lab. Longing to make genuine connections to the outside world, he secretly films people’s precious memories for later sale and surfs the crowds at rave parties, despite the danger to his frail body.
One night, Jay and Benny stumble on a secret video, one that could get them killed. Tracing the origins leads them on an dangerous journey that could change their lives forever.
About Collin Tobin:
Collin Tobin lives in Massachusetts and is the proud father of two daughters. He holds a bachelor's in English and master's in Education. He has worked in the software industry for the past thirteen years.
He was the lucky recipient of the Mississippi Literary Festival's 1st place in poetry and has also published poems in "character i" and "The Drum".
When he's not writing, he enjoys re-reading Nabokov's fiction in chronological order, eating very hot salsa, and dreaming up inventions with neither the capital nor the initiative to see them through.